Rallying cry for Wanstead businesses to counter Westfield impact

The owners of a Wanstead store issued a rallying cry to other businesses and local councillors to counter the impact of Westfield at last night’s area one committee meeting.

Rachel Root, who runs The Orange Tree, an interiors and furniture store in High Street, said the giant shopping complex in Stratford, which opened in September, is already impacting on local trade.

Speaking at the meeting in Wanstead Church School, Church Path, Wanstead, on Monday, she said: “With the development of Westfield, the High Street has seen a sharp decline in foot fall.

“I’d like to know what the council will do to raise foot fall and create some atmosphere in the High Street.

“In my particular store, sales have been affected.”

She said collective action by High Street businesses was needed to put on events and create an enhanced shopping experience for customers.

She said: “My personal view is people go to Westfield because it offers a shopping experience, there’s food, there’s a lot to offer.

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“In the High Street, we need to create activity.

“The Farmers’ Market is great.

“We need to work together because at the moment businesses are working in isolation.

“It would be great to be backed by the council or the MP.”

Cllr Michelle Dunn, a Conservative councillor for Wanstead ward, said the Olympics and Wanstead Festival would be positive for the area.

But she added: “It’s a concern and we will talk to the council leader and see how we can get businesses to work together.”

Peter Aiano, who also runs the store, said: “What we don’t want is negativity, it’s not that the shop is being threatened by Westfield.

“There’s lots of things having an impact, the general economic climate is having an impact.

“We have lots of really good ideas but currently no way of putting them into action.”

The councillors agreed to meet with Ms Root to discuss further plans.

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